One answer (not the only answer) is step out of what you think, do, or believe. Some refer to it as “thinking out of the box” or “outside of the box thinking”. The phase sounds good, but what does that look like. I will provide exact examples and website references for your consideration and what I have utilized over the years.
As a nurse, educator, leader, and mentor, one may think I look at everything within nursing or the healthcare field. Absolutely not. That type of thinking would be, in the box thinking. Not good!! I step into other disciplines, sports, professions, age groups, settings, listen to people closely (without trying to give an answer back), and look at other’s life experiences to learn something new and ask myself “how could this information help in my settings or what I do and think.”
Jack Welch – CEO at General Electric (1981 – 2001)
He coined the term reverse mentoring. Traditionally mentoring is thought of as an older person mentoring a younger person. In reverse mentoring, the basic idea is a younger person mentors an older person. I referenced Jack’s knowledge and additional literature on reverse mentoring as a means of the importance of generations learning and working together in nursing and in my published work.
Reference – Website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pux40FNW9lk
Jay Wright – Villanova’s Men’s Basketball Coach
A well-known and successful basketball coach. One would say, how does this fit in nursing. As a leader, there are basic leadership skills that cross settings. How Mr. Wright works with and leads his team including the importance of the bus driver (I use this story when I teach nursing leadership classes), who were his mentors and how they mentored him, and his success and challenges are useful for ideas in other areas of life.
Book: Attitude: Develop a winning mind set on and off the coach. By Jay Wright.
Ask Small Kids:
Kids naturally ask questions because they are new to experiencing the world. Those who have lived in the world can become desensitized to seeing things differently. As a result, as we get older, we ask less questions. However, if you step into a new environment (that is new to you) you may find that you see things fresh and new and ask questions. Therefore, businesses and researchers have bought in kids to help solve or find innovative ideas to challenges. So, ask kids, what do you think about…. Do you see a way to do (insert challenge) better? Then, take notes, and avoid saying “that is not a good idea…that cannot be done” we have learned from the recent challenges in life that what one would say could not be done, has been done. Be open to their ideas. Do keep safety in mind for people, the community, and the earth with innovative ideas.
In summary, look at various fields, other cultures, books, articles, watch how nature works (I love how jelly fish have been used to design drones - https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/131126-drone-robot-jellyfish-technology-animal-science), and areas you may not have considered that at first do not seem to relate but once you look, listen, read, ask people questions, and reflex, a basic idea from one field could be an innovative idea in another field.
I hope this helps as you enjoy your new discoveries!
All the best.
A few easy and efficient way to do so is to:
- cultivate your creativity by using your imagination (play! I’m not talking about game on a screen here)
- walk in nature
- last but not least: be you!
These are the easiest way and the most efficient and fun ways to get innovative ideas flowing to you 😉
One last thing: figure out what you need to make your life easier, and find out how you can create it. If you miss it, it’s most likely that someone else will benefit from it.
If you are serious about being an innovative wizard, like I was(!) this book will give you probably 30 or more techniques to get new ideas on demand. Each technique can generate dozens of ideas. And these techniques are fun! Here's one for instance.
You are trying to deal with an issue to improve it. Here's one technique. Write down all the WORST things you could do to solve the problem. Then flip or reverse that, or be aware of tangential ideas as well, to get an idea for a solution. Example: My problem say is lifting a refrigerator into a pickup truck with no help. What are some of the WORST things I can do to NOT accomplish this? Well put an explosive under the fridge. When it explodes you hope the fridge lands in the truck. Ok, here's how to 'flip' that awful idea. First you don't use explosives but the fridge needs to go up. Is there something else you can think of to accomplish the same result? What makes heavy things go up? Maybe you could get a large, airtight canvass bag, put it under the fridge and pump it up till it was easy to slide into the truck. Or maybe to get the fridge to go up (the action an explosion would generate), you take it apart into small pieces you can LIFT into the truck. Both these ideas I just generated from the initial WORST thing. I hope you get the concept.
So, I strongly recommend the book. You'll be inspired!!! I used the techniques in there for years and years of new ideas.
Good luck-----we need a LOT more innovative thinkers!!!
The best advice is to always be learning. Find a subject that you know nothing about and learn more about it. It can be history, dance, or computer science, online or in person. Travel as much as you can, even if you just drive to a place where you have never been. Go into stores that sell stuff you know nothing about and ask questions. Take lessons on things that you have no idea how they work like pilates or painting or knitting. Volunteer with a charity that you are interested in supporting. Your volunteer events may take you to places you never heard of or considered before. Always be curious and ask questions.